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Category: Writing

My Reader’s Group is officially OPEN!!

Join today to receive a free copy of her short story anthology, The Hit Parade!

Announcement time!!! My Reader’s Group is officially open and when you join you’ll get my short story anthology, The Hit Parade, for FREE….yup, three short Young Adult coming of age stories totally free!!  These stories all feature characters from the YA novels that I am currently writing or will be writing in the near future – so click here to join and start reading!

Send in the Clowns tells the tragic yet romantic story of a famous clown family – how they got started in the circus way back when and what made them decide to join the circus.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame shows Joe Marretti’s journey from promising pro-ball pitcher to back home in St. Louis nursing a broken heart and finding true love along the way.

Papa Don’t Preach is about Veronica and Michael’s unexpected teen pregnancy, family drama, and how love can overcome all obstacles.  The companion novel, The Art of Lying, will be available in Spring 2018 – more details coming soon!

I loved writing these stories and am so excited to offer them to you – as my gift – to you, my lovely readers.  By joining my reader’s group you will get insider info, sneak peeks into my book launches, freebies, and more! If you love Young Adult novels and free stuff – join today! 

Thanks….and share with your friends.    

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How I Use Pinterest To Help Me Write My Novels

My debut novel isn’t 100% ready to be published yet, but I have already started working on my 2nd novel.  Right now I’m still in the very beginning – or outline mode – but before I blink, I will quickly be descending into research, drafting, and revision modes so I already started a Pinterest board to help me.   

The working title of my second novel is Leo’s Decision which is set in my hometown of St. Louis, it has ties to Cardinals Baseball as my lead’s father was a pro baseball player, and I want to feature some of my favorite things about St. Louis including the food on The Hill, an old Italian neighborhood I grew up near.  Now, I haven’t lived in MO since 2001, and although I have visited and did live there for 25 years, I don’t remember everything – especially street names or where certain counties are located within the city limit – so I use Pinterest to help me find maps, restaurant menus (so I can spell food correctly!), and other goodies.

Also, I’m not a huge baseball fan.  Okay, full disclosure – I understand baseball, even played one summer as a kid, but I’m not a sports fan – so I have also pinned a few things about baseball including lingo, the uniforms from the 1990s, and other research links to help me when I need to write about the sport.

My other favorite thing to do when starting a mood board for a new novel is cast my characters.  If you head over to Leo’s Decision on Pinterest you will see I’ve picked a few people to play the characters in my head….and yes, I choose Steve Carrell for my lead’s step-father and John Stamos as my lead’s father – they have the right looks and I can imagine those actors walking around playing out the scenes as I write them.

During the outlining phase, I like to use Pinterest for inspiration as I work out scenes, come up with my complex characters, and help me finalize a research plan.  Once I start writing, I use the images to help me with descriptions, help give my scenes a sense of place, and can sometimes help me with tricky dialogue.  And after the book is all edited and ready to go to a book cover designer, I can look through other YA book covers and add to my mood board so all of my vision is in one place to send on to the artist to create my cover.  Exciting!   If you’d like to see an example of that, check out The Art of Lying’s Pinterest mood board as I added a bunch of covers so I’ll be ready for that part with my debut novel.

Do you use Pinterest to help you with writing or your artistic endeavor?  I’d love to connect with you over there, send me a friend request, show me your favorite board, or share an image you think might help me with my novels!


My Writer’s Toolbox

Did you read that title and go, what is she talking about…writer’s don’t have toolboxes.  Okay, true – I don’t have a giant red Craftsman toolbox where I keep my writerly things, but I do use tools to write and that’s what I want to talk about today.

First, my laptop – I use a MacBook Air that I bought 2 years ago.  It’s lightweight, fast, has all the programs I need on it (more about that in a minute) and I can carry it around the house, or around town, if I need to.  I’ve been an Apple girl pretty much my whole life – my sister started me young, she bought either the 2nd or 3rd Apple computer that came out back in the late 1980’s.  I adore Apple products and although I’ve used PCs at my corporate day jobs, I wouldn’t want to write on one for long.

Next up, the programs I use to write.  Evernote for research and Scrivener for the actual writing.  I love Scrivener!!! (Oh man, do I sound like Oprah in those annoying Weight Watcher commercials where she tells us she loves bread?!?!) I even wrote a whole blog post about how I use Scrivener to organize and write my blog posts – you can find that gem HERE.  I do love this program though and I do use it to write pretty much everything from my blog to my short stories, to my longer novels – it keeps me organized, gives me freedom to write the way I want to write, and has a fantastic snapshot feature so I can keep track of edits and different versions to make the whole revision process a snap!

I use Evernote to keep links, documents, websites, articles, and everything else I use for research all neat and organized and in one place.  I usually create a notebook with the working title of my books and keep everything inside.  With The Art of Lying, I kept articles about art galleries, famous artists, information about New York parks and subways, maps, and other handy tidbits I needed during the actual writing sessions.  For novel #2, which is about St. Louis Cardinal’s Baseball, The Hill (a great Italian neighborhood), and the joys of being a teenager I’ve already started saving articles and research links for everything above.  I grew up in St. Louis, but I don’t currently live there so I will need maps and pictures to accurately describe things.

Third in my lovely toolbox is all the non-tech stuff. I use plain old spiral bound notebooks, gel pens, and index cards to help me plan, plot, outline, and revise.  Right now I have two notebooks being used – one for my short stories and one for Novel #2 – they have notes, ideas, character interviews, plot points, research to-do’s, and more!  Once I have notes and ideas out of the way, I grab a giant stack of white index cards and start writing down plot points, scene ideas, and anything else I want in my books or stories then those go into Scrivener and off I go.  But I still keep my notebooks around.  I use them while writing to make notes of character names, character descriptions that I don’t want to forget, and any other notes to myself.  I also use the notebook (or grab a new one if it gets full during pre-writing and first draft) for revisions.  I create reverse outlines, timelines, revision notes, and anything else that needs to happen during that process.

Now it’s your turn…what do you use for your creative endeavors?  Are you an artist?  If so, what kinds of materials do you work in?  If you’re a musician, what apps or computer software do you find most helpful?  Let me know in the comments and if you’re a writer too, what things do you just have to have in order to write?

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Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Ah, another year is coming to a close.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, that weird old man is retiring and baby new year is bouncing onto the scene.  Side note: how does that baby age so much in one year?   Okay, back on track.  This is my last post for 2017 and I thought I’d talk about what most people are talking about at this time of year – goal setting.

Now, I use quite a few systems that I’ve learned over the past few years to plan out my goals.  I’ve gotten them from various webinars, books, courses, old planners, and online blog searching.   I have no idea who to attribute most of what I’m going to talk about to specifically because at this point it’s a hodgepodge of styles with my own added flair!

I like to start with a general brain dump of things I would like to get done, accomplish, get better at, finish, etc.  That list usually looks like a hot mess, but from there I’ll separate the do-able from the wishes, the first things first to maybe if I have time, and then I make a quarterly plan.  This year was easy, actually, because I know I want to launch my newsletter (with that freebie I keep hinting about) in February and my debut novel will be self-published on Amazon (more about that in 2018) in either March or April so my Quarter One goals were set.  I have a few things bulleted out for Q2, including writing the 1st draft of book #2 and researching blog guest posting, and then I just have a list called: ????  This is a maybe/future list that includes starting a YouTube channel, planning our August family vacation (we know we’d like to go somewhere this summer, but we’re not sure where we’re going this year yet so, for now, it’s on the ???? List), and when to publish/launch Book #2 – only because I have no clue how fast I’ll be able to write and edit since this current novel has taken me years!

I also added some health & wellness goals to my list, music and hobby goals (I want to start singing again and I think I’m getting a hand-me-down acoustic guitar and would like to learn that as well), and some overall family goals (like taking my little one to more museums, doing more things around Queens, and getting the rest of the apartment organized and finished).  My year is shaping up!  It’s all very exciting, shiny, and new.

I am definitely getting excited, especially after I did one final step of my yearly planning…the tarot cards!  I bought Biddy Tarot’s 2018 Planner this year but not to use as a plan-your-day type calendar (I’m still using my Erin Condren bullet journal hybrid), but to help with tarot study – it has monthly spreads, weekly cards, new moon and full moon intentions, quarterly reviews, and some fun journaling prompts along the way.  I did the big New Year’s Eve spread and that was nice, but then I went ahead and also did the Q1 Manifestation Spread (where you talk about your biggest goal for the quarter – mine was launching The Art of Lying) and baby, hold on to your socks – because this was a doozy of a spread.

You basically go through questions about where you are right now with your goal, what weaknesses and strengths you have surrounding the goal, what you need to let go of, what action steps you need to take, and what…overall…the next three months might look like.  These cards were totally speaking to me, they were extremely positive and point to the fact that I am on the right track to finishing Q1 strong!

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, but I will share with you what I wrote in the summation box of the planner:  This spread has shown me that I need to continue the New Year with hard work and expert planning.  I need to let the creative side celebrate her wins and much earned success, while my business side makes decisions based on knowledge, research, and gut intuition.  I need to stay true to myself, be authentic and human in my marketing and promotions, stay down to earth, but don’t neglect my health in striving for perfection!  If I do these things, keep up my confidence and courage, I should achieve my goal!!!

Now, I’ve done quite a bit of 2018 planning – last week’s Word of the Year and this week’s goal planning, but I’m not done yet.  The writing mastermind I am a part of is having a big Planning Party soon and my mentor will be sharing a workbook PDF that will have questions, prompts, and other goodies for us – now I doubt any of that will have me changing my plans much, but it might help solidify things for me – things I’m worried about, things I’m trying not to freak myself out about (like all the decisions that business side of me actually needs to make soon), and it might just help me narrow down my daily tasks and to-do’s better.  And, I love a good planning party.

So…what have you been planning for the new year?  Any goals you’re just itching to get started with?  Do you do the whole goal setting thing or resolutions?  I personally think both can work as long as you have a plan in place and not just a wish…like I wish I was 25 pounds lighter, but actually, say – I will work out three times a week, cut down to carbs at one meal per day, and meditate daily to help alleviate stress – now that would be a plan!  Also, that sounds very similar to my plan for health and wellness.  HA  So, share!  I’d love to hear what you’re working on next year and where we can maybe each other stay on track.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,  and a Lovely 2018 to you and yours!!!

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One Word to Rule Them All

I’ve spoken about this before, but you know that this past year has been all about inner change for me.  I’ve worked on my mindset by fixing beliefs I had about myself and my body.  I’ve worked on things with my therapist and nutritionist through journaling, talking, and other exercises to help me deal with issues I had surrounding food, exercise, and self-hatred.  I’ve declared myself a WRITER to the world and to myself by joining groups, continuing work on my book, sending it to an actual editor, and making real plans to self-publish in the new year.  And through this whole journey, I have used one overall word and two supporting words to guide me.  I used Susannah Conway’s method for finding my Word of the Year in December of 2016 and decided upon the trifecta of Nourish, Patience, and Compassion.

Nourish came into play with everything from making time to write, to eating nourishing foods, to giving myself time to rest and practice self-care.  Patience reminded me to be patient not only with others (especially my six-year-old son) but also myself as the process to change was going to be very long.  Compassion reminded me to love myself as a best friend and to give love and acceptance to those around me.  I journaled and planned and thought about what those words would mean, I talked about them during sessions with both my nutritionist and my therapist, I thought about them as I worked on my book and my blog, and I thought about them as I went through my daily life.  They became a part of my year-long journey and as the year comes to a close, I’m kinda sad to see them go.

The thing is, I redid the whole process again this week and came up with my words for 2018.  While the words I chose for 2017 were very inward and introspective, the words that came up for 2018 are all outward words – big and loud and scary words.  Exciting and daring and a little Holy Crap…but I know they are the perfect three words to support me as I step more into the role of Professional Self-Published Writer, as I become a real Authorpreneur, and as I make decisions about my business and my career.   Are you ready?  The two supporting words this year are Open and Magic and my big overall word is Courage.

I’m hoping to carry these words into all aspects of my life from my relationships, my food and health issues, my therapy sessions, my writing, my self-publishing career, and the way I interact with others and myself in general.   I am hoping for big, scary, amazing things to happen next year and with the support of these words I know I can handle anything and everything life has to throw at me.

So, do you choose a word (or words) to help you through your year?  Do you choose a mantra or motto?  Do you make a vision board (I’m planning on doing this again soon) and create a visual reminder of your yearly goals, hopes, dreams, and plans?  If you do, I would really love to know what word or motto you chose and why, what helped you make the decision, and what you’re planning to do to remind yourself of the word throughout the year.  I plan on having the courage pictures and quotes from this post on my cork board over my desk, and I plan on asking myself the following three questions every day. What can I do today that would be courageous?  What can I do today to be more open?  What can I do today that would help bring some magic to my life?

As the year comes to a close, give yourself time and space to reflect and think back on how much you’ve changed over the last year – then give yourself time to dream and plan and bring some hope as we usher in 2018 and a chance for even more growth and learning.  Isn’t that an amazing thing?  We always have more to learn, more to be, and more to give.

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Coffee Break, part 2

It’s almost December…how did that happen?  This time of year is full of holidays, family time, and looking forward to the new year.  2018 will be here in a blink and I have quite a few things to finish up before December 31st rolls around. So, grab a cup of warm coffee or hot chocolate and let’s dive right in. 

For starters I’m still working on the editorial revisions of The Art of Lying and should have those back to my editor by Christmas week.   It took me awhile to get back into my novel’s groove but I’m feeling very much in the flow now and should be finished early (with enough time to read through it at least twice and make sure I’m still totally in love with the thing).  Sarah, my editor, said I should have it back by end of January which will be amazing and give me enough time to hire a cover designer, work on and finalize the front and back matter of the novel (the copyright page, dedication page, etc.) and figure out the formatting software I downloaded.

A while ago I mentioned a story about a young man named Leo and I implied that I would be writing a short story to give away if you signed up for my newsletter.  That was the plan until I started working on it and really loved the characters and the plot and all of a sudden my outline was long – like novel-length long – and I decided I wanted it to be Book #2.  Great!  Except I still needed something to give away for my newsletter.  Well, I came up with a cool idea to write 3 mini stories that are based on the novels I’m either writing or have planned so I really need to finish the first draft of all of those by the end of the year too so I can start editing those over Christmas/New Year’s break.  Whew!  Anyone else tired yet?

The goal (as of right now) is to have my newsletter all ready to go with opt-in freebie short stories and welcome messages by early February and the novel ready to launch by mid-March.  I have the outline for book #2 almost done so once I get my book formatted and uploaded to Amazon I can start writing the first draft of that.  As of right now, that’s all I have planned.  I would like to get book #2 to my editor by the middle of 2018 and launched sometime later in 2018 but we will see how all of that works out.  Considering The Art of Lying has been YEARS in the making I might be thinking too big for 2 books in one year.

What’s on your December To-Do list?  What things are you hoping to finish up before 2018 rolls around?  What are your big dreams and goals for next year?  Are you working on plans or still concentrating on December? Let me know in the comments!

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Technical Difficulties

You might notice that things look a little different around here.  I’m hoping they look better, but I guess that’s subjective isn’t it?

Yesterday, I received an email from my web host that they updated some things on their end – this caused my old blogging platform and my web host to stop speaking to each other (family drama!).  After a little ranting and raving and crying and cursing the Universe I decided that this was actually a good thing.    See, I just created a fancy Facebook Author page, which just went live on Thursday, and then my blog blows up – I felt like the Universe was laughing at me.  Then I decided that the Universe was actually saying, “if you’re going to go BIG then go BIG – do it right!”

So, I downloaded WordPress, installed a fancy theme, and moved my old blog posts over.  I think it looks keen, but again your mileage might vary.  It’s my blog though, so I’ll do what I want. HA  Just kidding – but I do like the simple clean lines of this theme, the fact I can add pages easier than my old platform, and I’ll be able to incorporate my MailChimp newsletter sign-in form so much easier – which, is coming soon (like early 2018 soon).

And that’s the story of my weekend blog meltdown.  I still need to go through and check all the old links, pictures, GIFs, etc and make sure everything on here is linking correctly.  Then I need to go through said fancy Facebook Author Page and re-link the few blog posts I put over there, and then make sure Instagram and Tumblr are okay.  Oh…and Pinterest is probably going to need an overhaul as well.  I tried re-directing things, but it didn’t seem to work like I was hoping so I still have some work to do.   Please be kind, if a link doesn’t work – drop me an email (see that fancy envelope icon in the top left – you can use that to email me now) and let me know.  I’ll continue working and updating and re-linking, but since this week is also Thanksgiving and I’ll be out of town, well – it might not be perfect right away.

So, what do you think of the new digs? Is it as easy to read? Check out the new FB author page too and if you have any friends or family members who love YA novels (especially coming of age stories) and want to check out a new author on the cusp of self-publishing, send them my way!  Thanks, everyone!!!


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Behind the Scenes: My Writing Ritual

I’ve been reading lots of publishing and writing business books lately and most of them talk about having a writing routine or ritual for getting in the mood to write.  Basically, a set of things you do before you start writing, and that got me thinking – do I have that?  

Currently, I wake up and get my son ready for school, then come back up to our apartment and write my morning pages and mindset, I then exercise, eat breakfast, have coffee, and then I’m ready to start my day and my writing.  If I’m putting down new words I put on music, read through my scene notes or look over my outline cards in Scrivener (my writing program of choice) and start writing. 
If I’m revising or editing, then usually it’s quiet.  I grab any notes I need, look through the scene I’m working on, read through it and get to work.  If I have lots of day job stuff to get to, I’ll put a timer on for my writing sessions, but I like it better when I can just drink my coffee and write until I feel done.  Usually, that’s at the end of a scene or chapter in both instances.  Lately, I’ve been working on revisions for my debut novel and I like to get two chapters done before moving on with my day.  If I’m working on my short stories (which don’t really have chapters) then I like to write at least 750-1000 words for the day.  

That’s it, really.  I’ve been thinking of adding some other things to this ritual or routine such as candles or my new Essential Oil diffuser, a writing warm-up exercise (although I find these distracting if I’m revising, but might be a good idea for when I’m working on novel #2), or somehow using my writing totem.  I have a Figment figurine from Epcot that I bought many moons ago that sits on my desk and reminds me to keep my imagination front and center, to keep asking questions, and most importantly to have fun with my writing.  But I just look at him, I don’t really have any ceremony or ritual with him.

I think the thing that has helped me the most is lately in my mindset practice I’ve been writing: Words flow easily when I sit down to write.  I make every scene I edit better.  I am a master wordsmith.  I am a wizard with revisions.  These things get into my body and when I sit down to write, I just start to write.  I don’t necessarily need a bunch of fanfare to get up and running.   

If you’re a writer, what do you do to get ready to put words on the page? Do you have a writing routine or ritual?  If you do something else creative, like knit or draw, do you have a warm-up that you do before you start?  How do you start your day?  
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Writerly Fashion – Fall Edition

It’s fall here in New York City which means pumpkin spice lattes, Thanksgiving, and fuzzy socks!  I love fall fashion in general but I especially LOVE fall fashion as a stay at home writer type person.  Here are just a few of my favorites and a bonus picture of me right now – today!

Leggings and Yoga Pants

Yes, yes and yes! Leggings as pants are a bit controversial and I would have been on the Nay side just a few years ago, but then I discovered LuLaRoe and soft buttery leggings and now I say Yay! (With the caveat, for me, at least, that my shirt needs to cover my butt).  Leggings and Yoga pants are a staple of my everyday wardrobe but especially in the fall.  Yes, I have jeans.  Yes, I wear jeans if I’m going out and about, but if I’m sitting on my couch or in my chair all day writing and working (Virtual Assistant to the rescue!) then I’m going to be comfy.  Step #1 for me is always comfort. Then color, then style.  

Tee Shirts and Tunics

Next on the hit parade is soft, colorful tee shirts and long tunics. Nothing better than throwing on leggings with a tunic – easy breast cover girl! Or a bright red tee shirt with black yoga pants – yes, please!  I feel pulled together and comfortable (remember step #1 from above?).  I don’t have too many shirts with sayings on them, although I do have a Muppets Tee shirt I like to wear, I do have quite a few patterned tunics from LuLaRoe that I like to wear with my solid color leggings.  I feel a bit like Punky Brewster and that’s all good with me.

Hoodies, Flannel, and Cardigans…oh my!

I am usually pretty warm (unlike my Mom who’s always cold) but there are days when the chill in the air is even too much for me and that’s when a 2nd layer comes in handy.  I have a few cardigans, one hoodie that I love, and a big black and white flannel shirt that are my go-to’s when I get cold.  I also have a white snow leopard print blanket that comes in handy if I’m sitting in one place and just need to throw something over my legs and/or feet.

Fuzzy Socks

I saved the best for last, I think.  Fuzzy socks are amazing.  They are soft, comfy, cute, and warm.  I recently bought a bunch more off Amazon because I had a feeling this fall and winter were going to be all about the fuzzy socks for me and so far, I’ve been right.  Right after a shower (I like to do mine at night) I put on some lotion and wrap my toes up in a foot sweater and bam, instant comfort.  It’s like a hug for your feet!  Okay, that was silly, but seriously – fuzzy socks are the best!

So, what is your favorite fashion item for the Fall?  Leather? Velvet? Cashmere?  If you are just chilling or working from home, what do you like to wear?  The one thing missing from my wardrobe right now is a pair of flannel type pjs – you know the old kind with a top and bottom – but I have a hard time finding pants long enough for my 5 foot 10 inch frame but this year I might look again.  Happy Fall everyone!


How I Got Out of My Planner Funk

At the beginning of the year I bought a new planner and was so excited to start using it, but around the middle of the year, it had lost its luster for me.  It wasn’t working….for me.  Now, this has happened in the past, I have tried all sorts of planners and types of planning systems and I’m all gung-ho for a while then it peters out.  Usually, this happens after the newness wears off, but also because I realize that the brand new shiny planner won’t actually do my work for me – it’s just a device to keep track of my things.  My tasks, my goals, my daily to-do lists, etc.  It’s a device, not a robot that’s going to write my blog posts, my novels, my short stories, do my day job work for me.  It’s not going to grow legs and clean my bathroom or do the laundry.  That would be awesome though, but it’s not going to do that so I get in planner funks when I realize that I’m still me – just with a new planner.

So, this time I actually realized that and instead of just jumping into a brand new shiny planner without thinking, I stopped and researched and did some reading and came to the conclusion that a new planner wouldn’t necessarily help me, but that I had chosen my current planner without doing some thinking about what I actually needed a planner to do.  I read an article called Being in a Planning Quagmire (which, btw – awesome word!) and this basically gave me some insights into why I was having problems with my current planner and why I had such issues in the past.

The questions at the beginning of that article helped me realize that I wanted a bullet journal type planner but I hated having to write out the monthly calendars vertically like the original bullet journal concept and I didn’t want to draw the calendar grid every month like I had seen on Pinterest.  I  knew a larger planner wouldn’t be a big deal because I rarely carry it out of the house. I also knew I wanted good paper and bright colors.  Then this question hit me: Are you in a Planner Quagmire because what you REALLY want is too expensive or otherwise out of your reach, and nothing else will do it for you?


This was the mother lode question because I had been pinning for an Erin Condren Life Planner for years but they were pricey so I kept finding other things, other workarounds. I wanted the bright, colorful, sticker-filled fun that was the Erin Condren life planner, but on the other hand, I really wanted a more simplified Bullet Journal style.  So I started googling and low and behold – Erin Condren had released a new version of their Deluxe Monthly Planner style that was monthly calendars in the front (mine runs August to July because it’s an Academic style – works for me as my son is in school and I like starting a new year in September when school starts) and then a boatload of lined pages in the back.  


In between the monthly spreads are planning pages for each month too.  All of a sudden I had these ideas running through my head of exactly what I could do with each section.  This was the bullet journal I was looking for.  Monthly grids all laid out and colorful, planning sections for monthly tasks lists and goals, and blank pages for my daily to-do’s and lists.  I added a smaller dot grid journal for collections (plans, larger lists, year goal matrix, ideas, etc. And so forth) and my system was complete. Side note:  If you’re in the market for a new planner, click HERE for my referral code and save a little bit.

The beauty – once I made the decision and signed up for an account, I got a discount code right away and then because I had linked from a planner girl YouTube friend of mine I got another discount code and then…I discovered the planner was on sale!  It was like the Universe said, okay – you’ve done the work, you made your decision – here’s a gift.  It took awhile to get to me, but it was so worth it.  I’ve been using it for a few months now and I’ll be honest – I still catch myself getting upset that my planner is not doing my work for me, but not as much as I did. HA

Let’s dive in shall we? Get ready, because I’m about to hit you with a ton of pictures!

This is my monthly spread.  

I use color-coded stickers to mark events and birthdays.  I use washi tape to mark vacations. I keep my monthly spread simple.  I realized that the stickers that come with the planner are going to run out, but luckily Erin Condren’s website sells them separately so I’ll be doing that soon.   I like being able to get a large overview of the month before drilling down to weekly and daily tasks. 

This is the page before the monthly spread.

I use this blank dot grid as my Monthly Task List.  I will add to this throughout the month as things come up that I know need to get done that month but aren’t time or day specific.  For example, my son’s Halloween costume.  We needed that by the middle of October but otherwise…it was a pretty open task so it got added to the large monthly task list. I’ve also checked this off as my son chose a very cute, Jack O’ Lantern costume for this year (he’s 6!).

After the monthly spread is the planning pages.

The first page has five sections.  I have divided my life up into sections: Writing, Family, Health and Wellness, Apartment, and Misc. and I write a few goals for each section or tasks that I want to complete that month in each part.  I like this fine, but I am also thinking about using these boxes for each week and writing my Top Goals for the week here.  I might try that one month and see which I like better.  

The next blank page has my social media stats so I can see growth (or lack thereof) and I’ve given myself note space to write down goals, things I need to work on, or things I want to touch on during the month.  The little side column is where I write down my tasks for the Rising Heroes health and wellness online game that I am a part of (and talked about HERE). For now – I really like this page and don’t see much changing.

In the back of the notebook is lots and lots of lined blank pages.  

This is where I (currently) write my Weekly Top 5 tasks (Blog posts, Novel, Short Story, Apartment projects, School stuff, etc.) and then start my daily bullet journal style to-do list with boxes, triangles, and arrows to mark various tasks, appointments, and notes.  I like to use stickers to add some extra color and flair but those things change weekly.  I am Team Blue when it comes to pen colors but I can also see myself using color-coding at some point, but that involves always making sure you have the pens with you…and right now, I’m keeping it simple.

This is my collection book.  It’s matchy-matchy, but not exact and has dot grid paper inside. You can see from my Index page what kinds of things I keep in here, but I’m also hoping to add a page for Fiction Books to read, Non-Fiction books to read, online course tracking (I’m currently in one about Self-Publishing but am getting confused as to which modules I’ve watched or ones I need to re-watch), and I’m thinking of adding a Monthly Habit tracker to this as well- but I also have an app on my phone I like so we’ll see.

So…what do you think? Are you in a planner funk (or quagmire?) – are you strictly an app/phone/digital person or do you like paper and pen and stickers and washi? What do you track in your planner? What ideas do you have for me on how I can utilize my system better?   I have another post planned where I’ll be talking about my favorite writing tools and I will be talking about the apps and software programs I use, but my planner will also be listed so if you want to know more about anything I’m using or want an update – let me know.

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